Thursday, August 1, 1996
2 pm. Initial Session with Helen Gregory.
Ms. Helen Gregory presented herself for her appointment in great distress,
frantic with worry that someone was trying to get her. She practically barricaded
the door and then launched into an amazing monologue which left me breathless,
hardly able to interject the simplest question. Ms. Gregory speaks in a
baroque, old fashioned vocabulary. She also is extremely scattered, jumping
from one topic to another with dizzying speed. Ms. Gregory didn't fill out
my patient sign in form, so I really know very little about her. Apparently
she works at SII, but I have no idea in what capacity. I can't imagine that
she can perform her duties without substantial concern about her mental
competence from those around her. Order her personnel file from SII. She
is strongly delusional and paranoid, possibly schizophrenic. Ms. Gregory
is an older woman who I'd guess is 60 years old. She reports having a 21
year old son, Matthew. Ms. Gregory reports temporal disorientation. Apparently
she is having substantial lapses of memory, splicing out days at a time.
She also reports playing the same moment of time over and over again. I
wanted to prescribe 20 mg. of haloperidol daily as an anti-psychotic, but
without a proper medical history I thought it unadvisable. I'm not sure
Ms. Gregory is in crisis, and I'm convinced that there is virtually no chance
that she would actually take the medication anyway. My impression is she
has been living this way for some time. She wouldn't come earlier than one
week from today. Ms. Gregory's appointment was made by someone who called
the service. I'm not sure whether she made the appointment herself or was
directed to come by someone else.
Thursday, August 8, 1996
2 pm. 2nd Session with Helen Gregory.
Helen was less agitated today and we were able to have a dialogue for the
most part. She said that she has "slipped beneath the surface of the
story," so that she doesn't have to fear the people who were following
her last week. Helen is concerned about revealing her secrets, seemingly
for my sake. At times she is quite lucid and then she will slip into moments
of almost super lucidity--a stream of almost poetic imagery to amplify on
a delusion. Helen says that she is a spy, formerly with the C.I.A. and now
freelancing. She is spying on SII by working as a night janitor because
of something she learned from "the visitors." The visitors are
an entity which use telepathy to speak into her head directly. Helen can't
say who the visitors are, but reports that she has communicated with them
since early childhood. She says that she touched one once and that it was
an amazing experience. The visitors also show her things occasionally. Helen
says that the visitors have never told her to do anything violent (she was
offended by the suggestion) and that she is not hiding from the visitors.
Helen told me that she failed to get tenure at Berkeley (U.C.?) and was
then recruited into the C.I.A. where they gave her substantial experience
in cryptography and sent her into the field. She says that she freelanced
at the C.I.A. for twenty years before going solo. Matthew is her only son,
twenty-one years old. He is currently in Europe, protected from the C.I.A.,
who apparently are the operatives from which Helen has been hiding. If Helen
has been experiencing these symptoms since childhood, she must have been
diagnosed as schizophrenic somewhere along the way. I would assume that
she has some experience with somatic pharmacological treatments. I should
find out what her reaction was to drug therapies and whether she would be
willing to take medications.
Thursday, August 15, 1996
2 pm. Third Session with Helen Gregory.
Helen arrived in great agitation. She burst forth with an explosive exposition
which lasted fully three minutes, something about a letter which had been
hidden from her by someone. Finally, I got out of her that she thinks Calvin,
her husband of 30 years whom she despises, has been hiding letters written
by her son Matthew to her. Although Helen claims to be in constant communication
with Matthew, she won't talk over the telephone and she apparently isn't
getting letters from him. She says that she communicates with Matthew by
sending her thoughts. She says that she knows that Matthew has sent a letter
by a warm feeling in her spine which increases as the letter gets closer
and closer. She hates Calvin because he is afraid of her--afraid of what
she knows and her secret knowledge as a woman, and because of his "dirty
ways, physical shortcomings and vindictive spirit." However, she can't
divorce him because it would endanger Matthew and herself. He knows too
much. Helen did not admit to ever having been diagnosed with any form of
mental illness previously and absolutely refuses to take any form of medication.
She wants my assistance to help her sort out the many details and layers.
Helen wants me to get a dead-bolt installed in the door, and I've decided
Friday, August 16, 1996
Looked at Helen Gregory's Doodles. The
first is a self portrait. It shows a woman with a tall, intelligent
face, straggly wiry hair and very long fingers held up and covering one
eye. The littlest finger, held out from the rest, has a very long fingernail.
The expression is severe. The likeness isn't particularly accurate, although
there is some resemblance. The hand covering the one eye gives the impression
of a half face, a common feature among the drawings of schizophrenics. The
second is a picture of a collection of eyes and eyeballs, some protruding
significantly from their sockets on stalks. All the eyes have eyelashes--long
and baroque. One eye has two pupils in it. Are these eyes watching? Who
is the watcher? Is this a representation of paranoia? Does she just like
Thursday, August 22, 1996
2 pm. Fourth Session with Helen Gregory.
A very interesting session with Ms. Gregory. She was ebullent and expansive
today. Unlike my hypothesis, she speaks in her baroque and breathless way
not only when upset or anxious but also when she is up and effusive. Although
she sidestepped questions of why she was so happy, apparently she found
a package of six letters from Matthew that Calvin had actually hidden from
Helen in a desk drawer. I have to admit being surprised. After our last
session, I had assumed that the letters were a fantasy--a way for her to
deal with the fact that her son doesn't write to her or otherwise communicate
with her. But apparently I was wrong. She handed me a letter from Matthew
and says that she will let me read them in chronologically reverse order.
I would read it now, but I must prepare for my session with Anna. Also,
apparently Calvin is mute. Helen says that he hasn't uttered a word for
over five years. Helen says that, years ago, she followed Calvin on one
of his walks and saw that he disappeared into a strip joint. She was disgusted
because he was contributing to the degredation of the women working there.
However, she said that she hasn't had coition with Calvin (or any man) in
over twelve years. She says that she married Calvin because the Visitors
told her to and, although she has been searching for a clue for the last
thirty years, she can't figure out what their reasons were for wanting her
to marry him. In a telling analogy, Helen describes her life in terms of
a television set. There are multiple channels, but you only watch one channel
at a time, although for Helen sometimes the channels get switched by someone
else as if they had a more powerful remote control than hers. I thought
it was a penetrating and highly perceptive description of schizophrenia.
Underneath her switching channels is one constant, though. The question
"Why?" That is why she is forced to try to sift through the pieces
and put together answers to all the puzzles with which she is confronted.
7 pm. I have read the letter from Matthew to Helen Gregory that she delivered today. I really don't know what to make of it. The letter exhibits much of the baroque vocabulary and manner of expressing oneself that Helen exhibits in our sessions. Is this just a family trait, passed on from mother to son either through repetition in childhood or some genetic trait now twisted into extravagant speech? Or is this a son who is trying to reach his mother in a manner which he knows will actually reach her? Or, perhaps, is this the fictional creation of a mother, inventing letters to further her delusion? I cannot say. The letter itself is without an envelope, so it is missing a postmark. The letter has neither date nor signature. The handwriting could be that of a 21 year old male. Or perhaps not. The paper is plain white. Penetrating through the obscuring haze of an impressive vocabulary, the letter appears to lament the fact that the son has not heard what the mother wanted and needed to tell him. Matthew says that he has left England and is in hiding after having finished his studies. He uses a peculiar phrase: "I have left England because I have done something no river could long enough conceal..." Did he throw evidence of a crime in a river? Intriguing. Later he seems to be apologizing for a conflict between honor and the "cruel rules of nature." And still later he writes, "I think I am lost now, mother.... I think I am in some trouble, but yeah to the dead, and farewell to honor." Matthew describes a dream where logs of wood he is drearily carrying across a field turn into the bodies of burnt dead children amidst the emerging sounds of a war. The letter reveals much, but about Matthew or Helen, I am not certain.
Thursday, August 29, 1996
2 pm. Fifth Session with Helen Gregory.
Helen complained about multiple threads happening simultaneously and being
mixed up together. Helen resists taking things one at a time because she
believes that the truth will be lost through the simplification. I confronted
Helen about her tendency to talk in riddles. Helen sees the riddles and
the complexity as essential to discovering truth, which she claims not to
fear, although she does admit to being afraid of everything. However, she
says that her fear is an essential element shared by all which apparently
doesn't control her search for truth, wherever it may lead. She was upset
about something to do with Matthew. Matthew is apparently coming home with
his (soon to be?) homosexual lover, Simon. Helen was angry at Calvin for
trying to exercise dominion over Matthew--taking him hunting and fishing,
for example, or giving him pornographic materials. She sees these acts as
an attempt by Calvin to sever her bond with her son. Helen said that she
was a second violinist with the San Francisco Symphony, where she met Ruby
with whom she's carried on a homosexual relationship for nearly 13 years.
She speaks of Ruby in extravagant and loving terms. Now that Helen has exposed
an occupation, a date and a location, I should be able to check to see whether
Helen was, in fact, a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony in 1983.
For this patient, it would be extremely helpful to learn whether her persecutory
delusions are of recent or long standing origin. If, in fact, she was a
musician, perhaps I can find some of her colleagues willing to tell me about
her. Apparently, Calvin knows about her relationship with Ruby, photographing
them unawares in the midst of a sexual encounter in the garden of Ruby's
6 pm. Helen slipped me a doodle during the session. This one shows a giant eye with the superior and inferior tarsus pierced through with threads which hold the eye open--something like that horrendous scene in A Clockwork Orange. In conjunction with the image of the bulging eyeballs that she gave me on the fifteenth, this falls right into her eyeball theme. The watchers must keep watching.
Thursday, September 5, 1996
2 pm. Sixth Session with Helen Gregory.
Helen was very concerned about the possibility of surveillance of my office.
I was able to ameliorate her concerns on that score and she relaxed, but
just a bit. Although my agenda was to try to get her to accept the fact
that she needed medication, she was having none of it. That's not quite
right, actually. She just brushed my comments aside. Her concerns now are
more pressing, and involve a giant paranoid delusion about a conspiracy.
She tried to start her story at the beginning, but it was far too complex.
However, Helen remembers an incident when she was about two and at her grandmother's
farm. (When speaking of old memories, Helen reverts to the third person).
Sometime during the afternoon, Helen saw little men with owl heads and gray
faces, presumably the Visitors. Suddenly it was nighttime. The time had
disappeared and Helen was alone and afraid. She screamed and her mother
came and got her. Later on, her mother confirmed that there had been a missing
piece of her time sense that day as well. On the 4th of July (1995?), at
least in the year prior to beginning employment at SII (Need to order her
personnel records from SII--an oversight on my part), she overheard something
from the Visitors that she believes she was not meant to hear. It was only
two words, "Silicon Impressions." So, she sought work with the
company to discover the secret of the conspiracy. Now, she feels that she
has cracked a code that SII uses to encrypt conspiratorial documents into
Ancient Gaelic. The documents reveal that the conspiracy is bigger than
she thought and threatens the entire US Government. Specifically, the conspiracy
involves survivalists, militias, domestic terrorists, perhaps the CIA and,
most significantly for Helen, perhaps Calvin himself. She found a mention
of Calvin's name in the files. Although she wouldn't finish her thought,
she is concerned Calvin is trying to alter her son somehow, for conspiratorial
advantage. Helen was quite agitated and left abruptly from the session.
5:30 pm. Got a look at Helen's Doodle. Helen left me a drawing this session. It's hard to call it a doodle, because it is so exact. But it shows a mean little man with an enormous nose riding on the back of what looks like a beetle. The man gives the impression of a figure from some perverse children's book, with long pointed shoes, spectacles, a tail coat splayed out along the back of the beetle, a hat, and a nose so long that it must be propped up at the midway point with a forked stick. He might be some kind of aging Pinocchio, turned human but suffering the consequences of a lifetime of deceit. While it is possible that the beetle is enormous, I get the impression, rather, that the man is beetle sized. The man has a mean and determined expression. He is definitely on a mission of some sort. Without the fanciful costume and extremities, the man might be a CIA agent. Could this be her view of her former "colleagues?" Little men scurrying about who are small and mean and cut an image worthy of ridicule or contempt.
Wednesday, September 11, 1996
4:30 pm. Telephone call from Helen
Gregory. Helen conquered her normal aversion to telephones to give me
a brief and paranoid telephone call. She has had a vision, undoubtedly brought
on by a passage in Matthew's letter about doing something that no river
could long enough conceal. Well, Helen believes that Matthew has committed
a murder after having a waking vision of a body in a river. So now Helen
is leaving the country tonight. Helen thought the line was tapped and that
her call was going to be traced so, after precisely three minutes, she hung
up abruptly. She is obviously in crisis and there is no way that I can get
in touch with her or help her in any way. I have to wait for her to contact
me, and she may be leaving the country.
Thursday, September 12, 1996
2 pm. Visit from Ms. Ruby Dribner
re: Helen Gregory. Ms. Ruby Dribner, Helen's lover, came to my office
today bringing a couple of drawings from Helen. Ruby is in her early to
mid forties. She might have been pretty, but she has a way of pulling her
head back into her body like a turtle, as if she is very shy. She spoke
very softly, but with a certain intensity that was almost unnerving. I
had the feeling that as she scanned my office, she was remembering every
detail. She wears old fashioned horn-rimmed glasses. Rudy said that Helen
hasn't been herself lately. She confirmed that she flew off--out of the
country is just a guess. Rudy said that it is like Helen used to behave
years ago, when she led a "rather adventurous" life. She keeps
Rudy in the dark about her activities and Rudy suggested that she thinks
sometimes Helen does it just to be mysterious. But Rudy corrected herself
and was on the verge of telling me something which would confirm the veracity
of Helen's activities when she cut herself off and hurried out of my office.
Just as she turned to leave, I noticed that she had a peculiar crease on
her left cheek. I knew I had seen it before somewhere and then I remembered:
a friend in college who played the violin had that same mark. We had talked
about it then and she said that all violinists get it--it's from holding
the instrument between their cheek and their shoulder while they are playing.
So Rudy apparently does play the violin, as Helen said she did.
I looked at the doodles that are really more like drawings done by Helen. She is clearly a talented artist. The first shows a body floating in silhouette in a river near a bridge. Next to an abandoned hat, there are a set of footsteps, either coming or going, near the riverbank. This drawing is done very hurriedly without the usual careful rendering typical of Helen's other drawings. The body could have been thrown off the bridge. But the footsteps suggest something else. No sign of a body being dragged into the water and there wasn't two people walking. Could this have been a suicide? But then why from the riverbank and not off the bridge? Could the person at the riverbank have been a witness to the suicide, or perhaps even murder? I presume this is the drawing of Helen's vision. The second drawing is in Helen's usual, careful style. It depicts a cockroach type insect figure, standing on its hind legs, whose torso is that of a nude human female. One of the antenna of the creature is touching a nipple of the torso in a manner reminiscent of some form of alien masturbatory fantasy. Could this be a reference to Kafka's famous story? Does Helen feel trapped in some Kafkaesque nightmare? Does Helen think of Ruby this way perhaps? And why was it important to Helen that I get these drawings? The one of the body in the river, I understand I guess. This explains what her fears are in relation to her son. But why the standing insect?
Thursday, September 19, 1996
Letter to Bill Bennett respecting Helen.
I spoke in part about Helen in my letter to Bill Bennett.
Friday, September 27, 1996
I received a postcard, obviously from Helen Gregory. The card was slipped under my door. Apparently, she found the card in an antique store and either sent the card to someone else who then dropped it off at my office in person, or dropped it off herself. The card is an old picture of what appears to be a Roman aqueduct--a bridge over a river. It is strikingly similar to the doodle of Helen's vision that Ruby dropped off after Helen disappeared. In fact, it even has the same kind of shrubs and a little beach by the bank of the river. The card really has the same feel as the doodle, even though the drawing shows the bridge as one tier and the photo shows it as two. The postcard itself has a postmark from 1958 and has some writing on it which is still visible, even though violently scratched out. The only word penned by Helen is my name. The card appears to be of a location in France--Nimes, perhaps? It is hard to read beneath the pen's masking. The text of the original message written in 1958 says something about the card being from France even though the postmark shows that it was originally mailed in Britain. I presume that Helen is trying to bolster the evidence for her vision by showing me that there exists a real place that looks like the drawing she made. It's even possible that she had the postcard first, made the drawing based on the card, and then reversed the order that she presented them to me. Perhaps she is giving me a clue as to her whereabouts. I am terribly worried about Helen and wish that she would contact me in person, although I'm glad to know that she was at least all right at the time she sent this card to me.
Thursday, October 24, 1996
4 pm. Seventeenth Session with Anna Green respecting Helen Gregory. Anna talks about Helen during her session. She says that Helen was "really out there" but had disappeared and hasn't been seen since. She said that the cops had been at SII making inquiries, but nothing developed.
Monday, November 25, 1996
Received a newspaper article, presumably from Helen Gregory. Slipped under my door when I came in this morning was a newspaper article dated November 25, 1929. Dated exactly 67 years ago to the day, the article was from a newspaper in Manchester, England about a young boy who was being questioned in connection with a fatal rail bridge collapse. The accompanying illustration shows a railroad bridge which looks very much like the bridge in Helen Gregory's doodle that Ruby gave to me on September 12th. Of course, the most important thing that I note is that Helen is still alive somewhere. This is the first I've heard from her since the postcard she sent me of the bridge in France. I still don't know whether she slipped this under my door in person or whether she had Ruby do it. But I was very happy to know that Helen is still in a position to think of me, although perhaps in a rather cryptic fashion. What does this article mean? What is the significance of the date? November 25, 1929 was a Monday as is today. The story describes a young boy who was probably autistic given the description of him as a mute with head ticks. The treatment of the mentally disabled in 1929 was obviously not of the highest order, and the thought of this boy undergoing a police interrogation after a serious incident like the train collapse fills me with a sense of horror. So now there are two bridges that are quite similar to the one that Helen described as involving Matthew, one in England and another in France. And what relation does the autistic boy have to Matthew's troubles? I feel sure there is one, but I can't fathom how an incident that happened 67 years ago could have much bearing on Helen's current obsession. The boy, if he was still alive, would be 79 years old now.
Thursday, December 26, 1996
9 am. Under the door was a folded piece of paper. On one side was an image of a distorted human face. On the other side was what looked like half of a shrimp. When the paper was unfolded, the two images created one face. The work is obviously that of Helen Gregory. I guess this was a form of Christmas card. I think the building was locked up for Christmas yesterday, so I'm not sure I know how this was delivered. But Helen was a janitor and might have connections in the building "underground." Does this mean that she is back in the country? Might I hear from her soon? I certainly hope so, if not for her sake than for my own. I would very much like a resolution of her strange mystery. I'm obviously not a very good detective, so I haven't been able to put all the pieces together. Of course, Ruby could have delivered this for Helen and slipped into the building somehow, so my surmise could be completely incorrect. The dual split face is a haunting image--half twisted human, half grotesque crustacean, almost insect like. Is she commenting on the nature of humans in general? I would not put it past her. I remember her talking about certain people as wearing masks covering their true selves which she did not even consider as human. Whatever it means, I was glad to hear from Helen again.
Monday, May 19, 1997
12 pm. First Session with Lloyd Major relating to Helen Gregory. The strangest part of our meeting came near the end. He started to talk about Helen Gregory and I got the distinct impression that he was trying to pump me for information about her. He said that he knew her and missed her--that he used to drink and smoke cigars with her. He said that he missed their chats. I can't imagine that the CEO and the Janitor had much in common--I don't see Lloyd as having a populist touch. I wonder why he would be interested in her and I wonder whether the true motivation behind his visit to me had something to do with Helen.
Monday, June 23, 1997
Lloyd Major brought a doodle of Helen Gregory's. I have no idea when the doodle was executed--and I forgot to ask Lloyd Major where he got it. The doodle shows an almost cartoonish figure of a man being scalded in a teacup by the boiling tea. Drawn to be funny, it is clearly not. Around the bottom of the teacup are little ants. Lloyd Major said that it was called "Tempest in a Teacup."